Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Dichotomous Summer

Have you ever been in a situation where joy and grief are equally present?  Did you feel confused?  How can you be joyful when something awful is happening?  How can you grieve when this precious event is occurring?  This dichotomy of emotions is how my summer can be characterized.

I guess it started back in March, when I last blogged.  As we anticipated the OB appointment to learn the gender of baby #2, my dad was hospitalized and almost died in the ICU.  Instead of going to my doctor's office where the sonographer is well versed in going through each organ system with expecting parents, explaining what is being viewed and eventually revealing the gender of the baby, we hurried the ultrasound, asking for a doctor's order to visit the local imaging center a day before the scheduled appointment to quickly make sure organ systems were all present and working and learn of the baby's gender, to in turn quickly drive home to visit my dad on his (at that time) presumed death bed and tell him if he was having another grandson or granddaughter.  Joy and grief.

After making a miraculous recovery and going through extensive rehab, my dad finally returned home.  However, in May, he was again hospitalized where they discovered that he was again, unable to swallow correctly.  Feeding tube surgery was risky due to the state of his abdomen and passing a tube down his nose into his stomach also proved to be impossible.  As I traveled home with my little boy for me to fly to Philadelphia for my best friend's wedding, my mother explained to me that the possibility of hospice care was real for my dad.  They were running out of ideas of how to keep my dad alive.  As I got myself ready to fly to Philadelphia the next day, my mom came home from the hospital telling me that Dad had made the decision to go under the care of hospice when I returned from the wedding.  I wept as I traveled to Philly, trying to hide my emotions and tears from my best friend, but failing.  Joy in seeing my best friend, grief for what was about to unfold.

While in Philadelphia, I was able to focus on the task of wedding preparation and push everything at home aside in my mind, for the most part.  But circumstances at home on the day of the wedding caused me to consider flying home and not be a part of my best friend's special day.  After much counsel from my wonderful husband and dear friends, I chose to stay and see my beautiful friend get married to an amazing man of God.  I was unable to be fully present that day, however, and I am so sad for that.  My mind was constantly focused on what was going on at home, praying that everything could be handled without me long enough for me to catch my 5:30am flight the next morning. It is still difficult for me to see pictures from that beautiful day without thinking of what was occurring in my life at that time. Joy and grief.

When I returned home, I saw my dad take charge, one more time, in my mother's care as she was hospitalized shortly at that point.  It was amazing to see him care for her, even in his weakened state, as she had done for him so much.  Joy in that precious moment, just one more time; grief that it was his last time to care for her.

Once hospice care started, I was the one to drive my dad to his final dialysis appointment.  We drove to his favorite places, having meals (as best as he could eat) where he wanted.  Our conversations were about heaven and what he looked forward to.  We talked about his new grandson and how he was making himself known with a lot of movement and discomfort to mommy.  Joyful conversations in the midst of grieving the impending loss of my dad.

My mom was able to spend one last night with my dad in their bed.  The next morning, early, he passed peacefully.  She said that she held his hand all night, laying as close to him as she could, even if he didn't know she was there.  What a beautiful experience.  Joy and grief.

Almost two months later, little baby boy G was born.  We gave him the middle name of David, after his angel in heaven.  What a joy to welcome him into our family, but I am grieving that he will never know his Pops.  That there won't be pictures of Pops holding him as there are of Little S.  My heart aches over all of this.

As I learn how to live life as a mom of two (which is really hard right now), I am also learning how life goes on without my dad present.  I pray for peace and comfort every day.  I am thankful for the amazing example of faith, perseverance and love that he gave.  I try to embody the same perseverance and fighting spirit that he had.  I look forward to joy in the midst of the grief that I know I will always feel over the absence of my dad.  Right now, I'll pray for comfort as the joy and grief continue to be separate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Oh wow, I sure do hate rollercoasters.  All kinds.

Yes, that is not an exaggeration.  I don't know why I choose to go to Worlds of Fun every year.  It's such a waste of money. I go on one rollercoaster and not only get scared out of my mind but also feel nauseous for the rest of the night.  Yeah.  I'm not a fan of rollercoasters.

I also hate emotional rollercoasters.  Ooooh, wow...they are THE WORST!!!  So stressful, so exhausting, so emotional, so unpredictable. 

I have been on a doozey of an emotional rollercoaster for about 2 1/2 weeks again.  I've gone from being told that my dad may never make it out of the ICU alive, to walking into his room seeing him sitting up in a chair.  We went from him telling me on the phone that, "Heaven awaits," as I rushed home to say goodbye, to filling out tournament brackets for the NCAA tournament (which I am going to lose terribly).  I had conversations with both parents regarding resuscitation and what he'd want or not want the staff to perform while in the hospital.  I went from telling him "thank you for everything" as he was taken into a high risk procedure thinking I may never see him alive again to grinning from ear to ear as we told him that his procedure was more successful than expected.  I am home and trying to regain normalcy to my life because he is more stable now and has been moved out of the ICU...ALIVE. 

I know that there is SO much ahead of him that will be difficult both physically and mentally for him.  I know that this will not be an easy journey.  But I also know that God has performed a miracle for all of us to see.  He heard our prayers, that were not necessarily for healing but for peace, wisdom, guidance, and comfort. 

So often we forget to praise God in the good times, when what we wanted (or didn't dare to want) has been given to us.  Do you know who remembered?  My dad.  He prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving the day after his "high risk" procedure.  Wow...just wow.

Please continue to pray for strength and determination for him as he journeys down this road to full recovery, whatever that might be.  Thank you for your support, kind words, and fervent prayers.  They have been heard and treasured by all of us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Learning God's Love with a Breaking Heart

Hmmm....maybe I should change that post title.  I think people are going to think it's about something different than what I am actually writing about.  But it's truly what this post is about.

I hate sickness.  I hate disease.  I hate genetic kidney disease that is and has been slowly killing my father.  I JUST HATE IT!!!

Sorry, had to start out with some capital letters. 

I know that I have written about my dad and his illness and I'm pretty sure one of the last times I blogged was after I'd visited him in the hospital. 

Well, it's worse this time and my heart is breaking.  He's in the ICU now and I'm scared.  His body is so full of infection that it has affected his organ systems.  He is so weak that he's not allowed to eat by mouth because he doesn't have the muscle strength to swallow it down.  His heart is so weak that he needs to be on IV medications just to keep his blood pressure stable even though what is stable for him currently is still lower than what it should be.  The cause of his infection has been identified and requires a "high risk" surgery to be removed.  He sounds so weak when I talk to him on the phone I can't help but cry. 

In the midst of this darkness, God is showing me what a selfless and true love looks like through two specific people: my dad and Little S. 

Even in this time of trial, my dad's main concern is his family.  Instead of complaining about how he can't eat, he asks us what we have for meals because he wants to make sure that we are eating.  Instead of lamenting about how he can't enjoy the nice day, he encourages us to go outside to get some fresh air.  He makes my mom and brother leave earlier and earlier everyday so that they can rest, though I know he would like visitors late into the evening.  Even though he falls asleep as soon as we leave his room, he gets upset if we don't call him to let him know that we are home safe and sound.  Even when he was coming out of sedation from a procedure, he kept looking at my mom and telling her how pretty she is and how much he loves her (of course this is in addition to the funny stuff that's the subject of many YouTube videos, but still).  He still tries to take care of us even when he has no strength to care for himself.  What an amazing example of love. 

I know that I may be reaching when I say that a three year old is modeling God's perfect love to me, but I truly believe he is, even though I don't know how he is so wise for being so little.  This little boy sees me crying and immediately drops everything to come over and give me kisses.  He asks me why I'm crying and why I'm sad, keeping perfect eye contact the whole time.  He doesn't stop looking at me and kissing my cheeks until he sees a smile from me.  This is the little boy who is usually so focused on what he's doing that he doesn't notice the world around him. 

Tonight, Little S asked me to sing Amazing Grace to him before bedtime.   I could barely start the song.  As he was kissing my cheeks and watching me, my sweet little boy started crying.  When I asked him why, he told me, "Because you are sad and crying," which only made me cry more.  I told him that,  "I'm crying because I'm sad that Pops is sick."  After crying together for a second, Little S said, "Please don't go away, but when you go to the hospital, I will go with you so you won't be sad." WOW.  But wait, there's more.  After I told him to pray that Pops gets better he asked, "But what if he hurts?" He's 3, people! My response, "Well, let's pray that he doesn't hurt."  I don't know where this kid came from.  His questions are amazing to me.  I pray that he doesn't lose that sweet and caring soul.

I ask that you pray for my dad as he battles.  I ask for comfort and peace as we walk through this with him.  I ask for prayers for wisdom for his doctors and compassion for his nurses. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thoughts on Lent far

A few days late as Lent started on Wednesday but oh well:

Oh yes, it's that time of year to think about sacrifices and what Christ did for us on the cross.  It's also the time of the year that many people dread as they decide what they want to "give up" for the 40 days. 

As expected (because he does this every Lenten season), last Sunday, my pastor encouraged us to not think of what we can "give up" but what we can do to lead us into a deeper spiritual journey during this Lenten season.  It's not a time for us to change a habit, lose weight, or anything like that.  It's a time for us to reflect and grow spiritually as we prepare for (in my opinion) the most important moments of the Christian faith. 

Honestly, I'd already decided that I'm not giving anything up anyway because of baby #2.  I can't eat raw sushi, drink my Angry Orchard, or even get an easy Jimmy Johns sandwich while at work.  I was pretty much being a whiny brat about it. 

After really thinking and praying about it, I still don't know what I am doing for the Lenten season.  I have started reading through a devotional book with Little S every morning when we wake up to start our day out with a little encouragement from God. 

And to be honest again, ever since we started this, parenting has been kind of sucky.  Ugh!!!  I know, it's small moments that are making me say this and for the most part, we have a fine time, but it hasn't been easy to be a mommy for the past 5 days.

In a way, I wonder if this is my Lenten "fast."  My pastor encouraged us to seek out something that really challenges us to get out of our base comfort zone and to truly rely on him as we battle what we fear.  For me, as I am often in my head, I tend to battle anxiety over the future and desire security and comfort.  From Little S running out into the grocery store parking lot and then headbutting my nose while I was trying to talk to him to being peed on by the stubborn little boy; from cleaning spilled coffee off my couch and chair cushions to vacuuming up rice and glass from a glass jar broken on our fireplace; and now to a sick little kid that's causing me to miss church and community with my church family, I feel like my desire for control of situations and preparing for the future are being tested.  I am relying on God as I pray for patience and love in all situations.  I want my boy to know how much he is loved, even when I am frustrated, tired, and short tempered. 

I know it's not necessarily a daily practice, but it sure seems like right now.  Oh well.  I know that God is good and loves and hears me.  I know that parenting is an adventure that never ends.  I pray that during this Lenten season and for always, I will remember who provides for me and that I will continue to rely on Him more and more instead of relying on my plans for the future (because we all know my plans are never the right course in my life, especially when I say, "I will never..." i.e. William Jewell College, nursing, marrying a youth pastor, etc).